A guest post by Ashish Fernandes of Greenpeace India
It’s no secret that coal pollution kills people (http://huff.to/N3pfcc). But now it’s increasingly clear that expanding coal mining is destroying significant areas of tiger, leopard and elephant habitat in India. Recent GIS analysis by Greenpeace shows that coal mining threatens to destroy over 1.1 million hectares in just 13 (out of 40) coalfields.
A significant chunk of that is currently inhabited by the endangered tiger, which the Indian government has repeatedly claimed is a conservation priority. Also at risk are corridors connecting some of India’s famous Tiger Reserves (Kanha and Bandhavgarh among them), as well as other less renowned but equally important habitats. In fact, the Central Indian region, under which most of India’s coal reserves lie, is the Royal Bengal Tiger’s largest contiguous habitat.
If India remains dependent on coal – as government pathways currently predict – it will either have to pay dearly for expensive imported coal, or increase domestic production by at least 250% over the next 20 years, which will in turn mean opening up most coal reserves to mining, and sacrificing the forests that currently cover them.So chalk up wild tigers ...